Who were the Sons of Korah in the Old Testament?

As I was researching Scripture, I came across a fascinating group of people, who were referenced in the book of Psalms.  Psalms 42, 44–49, 84, 85, 87 and 88 are all credited to a group of people named the Sons of Korah.

But who are the Sons of Korah? The Sons of Korah are a group of people who descended from Levi, Kohath, and Korah. They played a major role as warriors, musicians, and Tabernacle workers in the time of the Israelites.  

The Sons of Korah in the Old Testament 

The line of Korah began in the Old Testament, where the Sons of Korah got many mentions. In the lineage of the Korahites there are many fascinating stories that should encourage Christians and Jews in their faith. 

To understand the full context of the stories however, it is important to observe the genealogy of Korah and his sons. 

Genealogy of the Sons of Korah 

Korah came from a tribe of Israel. The people of Israel in the Old Testament were split up into 12 different tribes. One of those tribes was the tribe of Levi.

In Numbers 3, we observe that the Levites are set apart for service at the Tabernacle. Their responsibilities consisted of taking care of Tabernacle and managing the Ark of the Covenant, which was considered the dwelling place of the presence of the living God. 

Beyond the Tribe of Levi, there were more categories within the Tribe based on the sons of Levi. Levi had three sons. Kohath was a son of Levi, so he was a head of one of these groupings.

Kohath and his descendants were the group that were responsible for managing the sanctuary and transporting the Ark of Covenant. 

Although transporting the Ark of Covenant was an important role in the Temple, some of the Kohathites were jealous of the responsibilities of the priests, who were the sons of Aaron. 

The Kohathites were descendants of Levi. They were pledged to Temple service for their life, so they helped manage the House of God. 

Being a member of the Tribe of Levi was a major responsibility as they helped the Children of Israel enter into the presence of God. 

Kohath had a few sons. One of the Sons of Kohath was Izhar. Izhar had a son named Korah, so Korah was the grand son of Kohath.

The Rebellion of Korah

Sons of Korah

The story of Korah is a cautionary tale that shows the danger of having the wrong company and having too much pride. 

In the book Numbers, Korah joined with Dathan and Abriam, and they were all disgruntled about their position under Moses’ leadership. They led a rebellion of 250 of the people of Israel against Moses and Aaron. 

Korah’s rebellion was quickly destroyed however. Moses told them that if God struck them down in a new way that they would know that God did truly appoint Moses and Aaron to be the leaders. 

During a confrontation, God had the Earth open and the leaders of the rebellion fell into the Earth. All of the 250 men were consumed by fire. It was a miracle from God that confirmed Moses’ anointing. 

During Korah’s rebellion God’s plan for the authority of Moses was revealed. The Lord God of Israel showed His power and plan to the people of Israel. 

But what about Korah’s sons? What happened to them? 

The Story of the Sons of Korah 

The Fallout of Korah’s Rebellion

Although you might think that there were reparations on Korah’s sons, Korah’s sons were spared. They were not punished for the sins of their fathers. They kept living and had families. 

7 Successive Generations Later – The Prophet Samuel 

The sons of Korah continued to have generations of family without much mention. However, eventually the line of Korah became prominent again. 

A single person from the line of Korah became a major figure in the fulfillment of God’s will. Samuel was born to Hannah. 

Samuel was a man who was dedicated at a young age to servitude to God. Hannah had prayed that if God gave her a son, she would give the son back to God’s purposes. God provided and Samuel was born.

Samuel was a prophet who anointed the king Saul and King David. That is a very significant task. 

Although Korah was an envious and jealous man, seven generations later, one of Korah’s descendants was responsible for determining the kings of Israel. 

But what else did the Sons of Korah accomplish? Was Samuel the only successful Son of Korah?

The Sons of Korah’s Return to Tabernacle Servitude 

Samuel was not the only important Son of Korah, but instead the Sons of Korah returned to their purpose of attending to the tabernacle. Although their father messed up, the Sons of Korah fulfilled their purpose by returning to servitude. 

In 1 Chronicles 9:19-21 there is an account of this taking place:

“19 Shallum the son of Kore, son of Ebiasaph, son of Korah, and his kinsmen of his fathers’ house, the Korahites, were in charge of the work of the service, keepers of the thresholds of the tent, as their fathers had been in charge of the camp of the Lord, keepers of the entrance. 20 And Phinehas the son of Eleazar was the chief officer over them in time past; the Lord was with him. 21 Zechariah the son of Meshelemiah was gatekeeper at the entrance of the tent of meeting.”

The Sons of Korah were keepers of the gates of the tabernacle and they were even custodians for the tabernacle. They were the keepers of the entrance.

The Korahite Warriors

The Korahites also defended David in a tumultuous time. 

Before David became king of Israel, He was Saul’s chief musician, until Saul tried to kill David. When Saul tried to kill David, David fled into exile. 

While David was in exile, there were warriors who still believed in David and his anointing. Some of those people even went with David as he left. As it is recorded in 1 Chronicles 12, there were three Sons of Korah who went to stay with David in his exile

They went to defend David while he was exiled. This is another expression from the Korahites of boldness and strength. 

Although their ancestor, Korah, opposed God’s anointed leaders, these Sons of Korah supported the anointed future-king of Israel. 

The Sons of Korah’s Musical Gifts

The descendants of Korah even became influential when it came to worship in the Tabernacle. A few of the Sons of Korah even develop some extraordinary musical talents that helped them to compose worship that is recorded in the book of Psalms. 

The Psalms that were created by the Sons of Korah are labeled as the Psalms of the Sons of Korah in the book. 

They were responsible for helping the congregation of Israel to praise God through music. They led the Israelites into the courts of the Lord.

David even employed them to help create a production for the returning of the Ark of the Covenant to Israel. 

Even though Korah rebelled against the will of God, his Sons brought glory to God through worship. Korah used his mouth to bring dishonor to God and his plan, but his descendants used their mouths to bring glory to God through worship. 

The Sons of Korah in the New Testament

The Sons of Korah are not mentioned in the New Testament, however Korah’s rebellion is mentioned in the book of Jude. 

“Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.” Jude 1:11

Unfortunately the last mention of Korah is a remembrance of his rebellion, but it does not take away from all the great things that the Sons of Korah were able to accomplish in their lifetimes. 

Lessons from the story of the Sons of Korah

The story of the Sons of Korah is a reminder of God’s grace. Korah was rebellious, but his descendants were not inhibited by the iniquity of the Fathers. 

The Korahites went on to be successful leaders, defenders, and worshippers in Israel. Despite their lineage of rebellion, they stood in unity for what was right. 

Many of them had major impacts on the development of the Israelites as a nation. They prophesied about the future kings, protected King David in exile, and led the children of Israel in worship. 

The story of the Korahites should remind us of God’s grace for our ancestors. Regardless of what kind of family we come from, God can use us.

God wants to use us, even if our families have not been faithful to him. There is no condemnation, even for our familial issues. 

Furthermore, it reminds us of God’s grace for our own mistakes. Although God doesn’t hold our families’ sins against us, He doesn’t hold our own against us either. Instead God is gracious when we repent and return to Him. 

Fun Facts:

The word Korah actually means baldness, icey, or frost

Korah is mentioned 37 times in the Bible.

The word Korah is referenced in 5 books of the Bible.

The men who rebelled with Korah were considered, “men of renown.” They were well known throughout the tribes of Israel.

The Bible is details that seem insignificant, but that end up have a meaningful backing. The Sons of Korah is an example of that. Although they don’t seem significant, they had a major impact on the history of the Israelites. 

Check out our article on the tear bottles in the Bible from the book of Psalms. 

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